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Kashmir Working Group Meets
Parties split over autonomy
S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Jammu, February 3
While the representatives of the Kashmir-based parties have suggested that the removal of erosions in the Article 370 is the answer to the current turmoil in the state, the Jammu-based parties have demanded the annulment of the special status of the state.

The representatives were participating in a debate at the meeting of the crucial Working Group on Kashmir (KWG) on Centre-state relations here today.

Mr Thupstan Chhewang, an MP from Ladakh, demanded union territory status for Ladakh as the mountainous area was being discriminated by the Kashmiri rulers.

Justice Sagir Ahmed presided over the meeting that was boycotted by the National Conference (NC). Mr N.N. Vohra, Center’s interlocutor, was also present. Central minister Saifuddin Soz and Speaker of the assembly, Tara Chand represented the Congress party.

The participants, however, wanted that the mainstream parties like the NC should actively take part in the meeting of the KWG, which was the right forum to raise demand of autonomy and other related issues.

PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti and BJP leader Arun Jaitley too did not participate in the meeting because of their prior engagements. However, representatives of their respective parties put forth their view point in the meeting.

PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Beig made a detailed presentation of the party’s proposal of “self-rule”.

Rejecting the demand of the BJP for abrogation of the Article 370, Mr Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami (CPM) said we should not shut our eyes to the reality.

Instead, he suggested, that the least that could be done was that the erosions in the Article providing a special status to J&K should be removed.

Mr Soz nd Mr Chand are learnt to have stressed the need to find ways to pull the state out of the difficult situation.

Mr Ashok Khajuria, state BJP chief, and Mr Ashwani Sharma, MLA of the Jammu State Morcha, demanded abrogation of the Article 370 and wanted that the separate flag and constitution of the state that gave an impression of separatism should be scrapped.

Mr Harshdev Singh of the Panthers Party submitted a memorandum to the chairman in which the party had suggested that an all-party government should be established.

He also demanded that the Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan should be revoked so that the state gets the right to judicious use of water of its rivers.

Mr Chhewang said the demand of UT status for Ladakh was based on various issues, including that preservation of its unique identity in every sense.

He said when Lakshadweep and Daman and Diu could be made union territories as they were cut off from the mainland with sea, Ladakh also remained separated by the mighty Himalayas.

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